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Seven killed as New York train hits vehicle

The BBC reports that.......................

A commuter train has hit a vehicle at a level crossing north of New York City, killing at least seven people and injuring 12, officials say.

The train, with about 800 passengers on board, hit the Jeep Cheroke near Valhalla - about 20 miles (32km) from New York - on Tuesday evening.

The vehicle's female driver was killed, along with six people on the train, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The car and front carriage of the train caught fire following the crash.

The packed commuter train had departed from Grand Central Station, in New York City.

The crossing gates at the railroad had come down on top of the vehicle, which had stopped on the tracks, Metro-North Railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

The driver got out to look at the damage, and got back into the car before it was hit by the train. It pushed the vehicle more than 120m (400ft).

A Metro-North train smoulders after hitting a vehicle in Valhalla. Photo: 3 February 2015
A car crushed by the front of a commuter train

Passengers had to escape from the rear of the train, with witnesses saying some had to smash glass windows to flee.

Mr Cuomo said: "When you look at the damage done, it's actually amazing that not more people were hurt."

Passenger Justin Kaback told ABC News: "I was trapped. It was definitely scary - especially when people are walking by on the outside and said 'The train's on fire'."

Another passenger, Jamie Wallace, said passengers had started to "panic" and shout for a fire extinguisher as flames spread to his carriage.

Aerial images of train crash near New York
Aerial images of train crash near New York

Passenger Neil Rader told NBC said some passengers managed to flee the train by breaking glass on the doors to get out, adding: "I've never seen anything quite like it."

Metro-North is the second-busiest railroad in the US, serving about 280,000 passengers a day in New York and Connecticut.

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued rulings on five accidents that occurred on the railroad in 2013 and 2014, criticising Metro-North while also finding conditions had improved.

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